LAGUNA SECA

HUBAUTO CORSA TEAM WINS LONGEST RACE IN WEATHERTECH RACEWAY LAGUNA SECA HISTORY

MONTEREY, Calif., March 30, 2019 – Track history was made during the 2019 premier event season kickoff to the 62nd year of racing at the iconic WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca road course. The Intercontinental GT Challenge California 8 Hours was the longest professional race in track history, both in duration – equaling the inaugural and second annual events – and in laps completed (327).

The thrilling race was completed without a single Full Caution Yellow, allowing for eight hours of continuous action from the grid of international GT3 endurance racing teams. The diversity among automakers provided further intrigue with five different manufacturers being represented in the first five positions on the leaderboard: Ferrari, Mercedes-AMG, Porsche, Audi and BMW.

No. 27 HubAuto Corsa drivers Nick Foster, Tim Slade and Miguel Molina had an outstanding performance in their Ferrari 488 GT3 to win the event and earn the second win by Ferrari in the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli series. Molina, who resides in Spain, set the pace in qualifying and teamed with his Australian co-drivers to dominate most of the race. With the lead well in hand, Foster broke the tires loose going across Turn 11 before making the win official at the checkered stripe.

“This ranks No. 1,” said Slade, when asked where this win ranks among his career accomplishments. “Nick and I drove opposite cars last year. I always wanted to team up together for a race. We’ve been friends for a long time, and he actually helped me get this ride. Miguel did an amazing job setting everything up. It was really special.”

The No. 999 Mercedes-AMG GruppeM Racing squad of Maxi Goetz, Maxi Buk and Raffaele Marciello charged hard to earn the second spot on the podium from the fifth row of the starting grid. Their effort padded Mercedes-AMG’s lead in the Manufacturer Standings.

The last remaining podium spot belonged to the U.S.-based No. 911 Park Place Motorsports team. With the other Porsche GT3-R of incoming points leaders Matt Campbell, Dirk Werner and Dennis Olsen retired with gearbox issues, the German brand was represented with a valiant effort by the trio of Romain Dumas, Mathieu Jaminet and Sven Muller.

No. 10 Audi Sport Team WRT, winners of the inaugural California 8 Hours in 2017, was the final team to finish on the lead lap. Dries Vanthoor took it home at the end for co-drivers Christopher Haase and Frederic Vervisch. Audi entered the event with an unblemished record following victories in 2017 (Team WRT) and 2018 (Team Land). Kelvin van der Linde, who was part of both previous winners, finished seventh with co-drivers Chris Mies and Markus Winkelhock in Team Land’s Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo.

No. 42 BMW Team Schnitzer made for five automakers in the first five positions with the efforts of drivers Martin Tomczyk, Chaz Mostert and Augusto Farfus.

FORMULA 1

CHARLES LeCLERC TAKES HIS FIRST POLE POSITION FOR FERRARI!

Charles Leclerc secured his first F1 pole position by leading Ferrari’s impressive charge as they held off Mercedes in Bahrain GP qualifying.

Leclerc will start Sunday’s race ahead of Sebastian Vettel on the front row after outpacing his team-mate by 0.294 seconds to become the second-youngest pole-sitter in the sport’s history.

On his first run, Leclerc set a 1m27.958s on soft Pirellis, which gave him the advantage over Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton given Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel did not attempt an initial run.

LeClerc then went out and improved to a 1m27.866s on his second attempt, which was three-tenths faster than Vettel managed on his sole run.

LCH lapped just 0.030 seconds slower than Vettel to take third, 0.066s faster than Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was best of the rest in fifth, but he faced a tough challenge from Haas driver Kevin Magnussen – who ended up just 0.005s further behind.

Toto Wolff…On Mercedes

Its what we expected after the free practice sessions. It’s a bit of a disappointment because it’s a gap and we need to analyse where that comes from. On long runs we were doing okay. We are lacking in straight line speed at the moment. Whether that is drag or power we need to analyse. You need to have a fast car on the straights.

Mattia Binotto…On Ferrari

Ferrari boss, speaks to Sky Sports F1I think the pace was good but very tough. I think that the race tomorrow will be difficult but happy today and happy after Australia. We are all happy. He is a good kid and being a good kid we all love him, as we love Sebastian. It will not be his last one. The result of today is good but it is not giving any points [for] today.

LAGUNA SECA

HONDA TEAM MOTUL EARNS POLE FOR INTERCONTINENTAL GT CHALLENGE CALIFORNIA 8 HOURS

MONTEREY, Calif., March 29, 2019 – The competition for tomorrow’s Intercontinental GT Challenge California 8 Hours is at a fever pitch following a thrilling Pole Shootout at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Eight automakers will be represented on the 20-car grid lead by the No. 30 Honda Team MOTUL Acura NSX GT3 which German racer Mario Farnbacher drove to the pole position.

Farnbacher set a new qualifying lap record during the Pole Shootout with a time of 1:23.156, finishing two-tenths quicker than Alex Buncombe’s KCMG Nissan, while Dries Vanthoor finished third aboard Audi Sport Team WRT’s new R8 LMS GT3 Evo. As many different manufacturers also finished inside a top-six covered by less than 0.4s.

It was the perfect start for Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli debutants, Honda, whose new NSX GT3 Evo is running as an Acura in its North American market this weekend. Its performance was equally remarkable given the car shared by Farnbacher, Bertrand Baguette and Renger van der Zande scraped through the day’s earlier qualifying session in 10th after missing the drop by just .005-second. Van der Zande is familiar with success at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca with memorable victories earned in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

“I’m not really sure where that came from,” said Farnbacher. “We had a lot of fuel onboard when I drove in qualifying earlier today, and around here that extra weight makes a big difference. We also fine-tuned the car after qualifying, and I think the combination of the two has made the difference. But, honestly, we didn’t expect that sort of time – the other guys in the top-three just said ‘Wow, where did your time come from?!’, but obviously it’s cool to give Honda and Acura the qualifying lap record, and especially on our Intercontinental GT Challenge debut.”

Audi has swept the previous California 8 Hours events in 2017 and 2018 with 22-year-old South African driving ace Kelvin van der Linde being part of both winning teams and setting the race lap record. The No. 29 Audi Sport Team Land squad of van der Linde, Christopher Mies and Markus Winkelhock look to rebound from its qualifying performance to make it three-in-a-row for van der Linde and a second win for his co-drivers.

Mercedes AMG enters this event with the lead in the Manufacturer standings, though only one of four entries will start in the top 10 positions tomorrow. Driver Championship leaders Matt Campbell, Dennis Olsen and Dirk Werner will start in the third row in the Wright Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.

F1Weekly podcast # 785

CLARK AND NASIR ARE BACK AT IT AND THIS TIME YES! WE CAN PREDICT THE ENTIRE 2019 F1 SEASON BY THE FINDINGS IN THE FIRST RACE! AND THIS WEEKS BONUS IS AN INTERVIEW WITH INDY LIGHTS TEAM OWNER RICARDO JUNCOS…

RICARDO JUNCOS

Ricardo Juncos, a second generation and former Formula Renault driver, grew up with a deep passion and desire for racing. At the age of 14, Juncos made his first steps in the racing community driving karts in Argentina. Through his success in karts Juncos was able to join the Formula Renault class competing throughout South America. After funding became difficult as many drivers experience over their career, Juncos began working for many race teams in order to continue his own racing career. During this time Juncos was able to learn all aspects of the car in and out, along with schooling in mechanical and electrical engineering

Stationed in Buenos Aires, Argentina. and headed by Ricardo Juncos, in 1997 Juncos Racing became a full-service formula racing team. The team competed from 1997 through 2003 in the Formula Renault 1600 Championship, Formula Renault 2000 Championship, and the National Sport Prototype Championship of Argentina In 2003, the team relocated to Miami, Florida as a full-service karting team.

During the first few years in the U.S., the team picked up 19 local, regional, and national karting titles. Juncos Racing moved operations north to Indiana, where they developed into a formula open-wheel racing team in 2008. After being formed in 1997 by Ricardo Juncos in Argentina, the team competed from 1997 through 2003 in the Formula Renault 1600 Championship, Formula Renault 2000 Championship, and the National Sport Prototype Championship of Argentina

In 2012 the team made its first attempt to field a car in the Indy Lights series (the next series above Pro-Mazda), with one car which was limited to six of the twelve races with three different drivers taking the wheel.

In November 2014, the team announced it would be fielding two cars full-time in the series for 2015, and would be elevating drivers Spencer Pigot and Kyle Kaiser from Pro Mazda to be the drivers.Pigot began the 2015 season with five straight podium appearances, including winning both races of the doubleheader at Barber Motorsports Park. With six wins and nine podiums in 16 races, he was crowned champion over Jack Harvey and Ed Jones.

Play Podcast: 03-27-19f1weekly785.mp3

INDYCAR

HERTA TAKES HIS FIRST WIN AT COTA

AUSTIN, Texas (Sunday, March 24, 2019) – History was made in more than one way at Circuit of The Americas this weekend. Not only was the INDYCAR Classic the first NTT IndyCar Series race conducted at the track, but Colton Herta became the youngest driver to win an Indy car event when he took the checkered flag on Sunday.

The beneficiary of an opportune full-course caution period, Herta led the final 15 laps and won by 2.7182 seconds over Josef Newgarden. At 18 years, 11 months, 25 days old, the second-generation driver became the youngest to ever win an Indy car race, breaking the mark previously held by Graham Rahal, who was 19 years, 3 months, 2 days when he won at St. Petersburg in 2008.

INDYCAR CLASSIC: Official results

Sunday’s race was just the third in the NTT IndyCar Series for Herta, who finished second in the 2018 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires championship before moving up to Harding Steinbrenner Racing this year. Herta was humbled to join the list of Indy car race winners that includes his father, Bryan, who won four times in a 12-year Indy car career and is now co-owner and race strategist for the car driven by Marco Andretti.

“Just to be up with the names of people that have won (a) race, I’m going to live and die an Indy car winner, which is spectacular in itself,” Herta said. “Yeah, it’s a great record at a young age. To be standing up here kind of feels surreal.

“We were not expecting (to win). I think we were going to get a podium (top-three finish) – I think we had the pace for that – but holy crap, man! … It’s spectacular!”

Driving the No. 88 Harding Steinbrenner Racing Honda, Colton Herta started the 60-lap race on the 20-turn, 3.41-mile permanent road course in fourth position. Pole sitter Will Power dominated the first three-quarters of the race, leading every lap under green-flag conditions until the only full-course yellow waved on Lap 44 after James Hinchcliffe and Felix Rosenqvist made contact, sending the latter’s car careening into the barrier on the inside of Turn 19 at the entrance to pit lane.

Fortunately for Herta, he’d made his final scheduled pit stop a lap earlier under green. Race leader Power, second-place Alexander Rossi and third-place Scott Dixon were forced to make their final stops under yellow after the field packed up behind the pace car. Once that trio headed to the pits, Herta assumed the lead for the first time in his brief NTT IndyCar Series career.

Holding off Newgarden on the Lap 50 restart, Herta pulled away to the history-making victory.

“On the restart, we were quick,” Herta said. “We kind of sprinted off. I know we got the quickest lap on that first lap, which was pretty crazy to have the tires up to temp and everything ready.”

The win was also the first for the team co-owned by Mike Harding and George Michael Steinbrenner IV. After fielding a car for Herta in Indy Lights in 2017 and ’18, Steinbrenner partnered this year with Harding to bring the driving phenom to the NTT IndyCar Series.

“He did a phenomenal job,” the 22-year-old Steinbrenner said of Herta. “Colton hit all his marks, he did everything right, the crew did everything they needed to do to keep us out in front of (Newgarden’s) car the whole time. Everything went pretty much perfectly.

“I really can’t believe we’re sitting here. I’m shaking and it’s a dream come true.”

Newgarden was satisfied with a second-place finish coming on the heels of his win in the March 10 season opener, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The driver of the No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet holds an 18-point lead over Herta after two of 17 races.

“We had a little luck (with the late caution), and I thought that could play into our favor to race for another win,” Newgarden said. “The PPG car looked good and felt good, it just wasn’t enough there at the end.

“A second place is big for us. We talked about the fact that you need to have podium finishes if you aren’t winning races, and this goes a long way to our championship run.”

INDYCAR

POWER TAKES POLE POSITION AT COTA

AUSTIN, Texas (Saturday, March 23, 2019) – Circuit of The Americas may be a new track to the NTT IndyCar Series, but the NTT P1 Award winner for the first race there isn’t.

Will Power continued his climb up the Indy car history charts, winning his 56th career pole position Saturday in NTT P1 Award qualifying for the inaugural INDYCAR Classic. The Team Penske driver will lead the 24-car field to the green flag in Sunday’s first NTT IndyCar Series race at Circuit of The Americas.

INDYCAR CLASSIC: Qualifying results

In the Firestone Fast Six, the last of three knockout qualifying rounds, Power pushed the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske around the 3.41-mile, 20-turn permanent road course in 1 minute, 46.0177 seconds (115.792 mph). It earned the 2014 NTT IndyCar Series champion a second straight pole position to open the 2019 season and pole No. 56 of his 15-year career. It leaves the reigning Indianapolis 500 winner within 11 of tying Mario Andretti for the most all time.

“When I looked at the Firestone Fast Six and where we stacked up, I thought the only chance we have at getting pole is if we do one lap of fuel (in the car) and do a lap and then next set (of used Firestone alternate tires), one lap of fuel and do a lap,” Power said. “That’s what we did, so it paid off.”

“That last lap was very neat, and I finally breathed by the time I got to the alternate start/finish line.”

Power, the only Chevrolet-powered driver to reach the final round of qualifications on Saturday, is now eligible to collect a $100,000 bonus from COTA if he can win the 60-lap race from the pole position. Live coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN, NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Alexander Rossi will join Power on the front row for Sunday’s race after qualifying second Saturday. The Andretti Autosport driver turned a Firestone Fast Six lap of 1:46.1761 (115.619 mph) in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda. Rossi’s teammate, Ryan Hunter-Reay, was third in the No. 28 DHL Honda (1:46.3228, 115.460 mph).

“The thing that’s bothersome is it was a good lap,” Rossi said. “It’s just, he (Power) has almost 60 poles for a reason, right? I missed it a bit in (Turn 19) to open the lap, so I knew it was an uphill battle from there. A front-row start is good; it’s a big turnaround for us from St. Pete, where we were not that competitive.”

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